Even though women today are in leadership positions they never dreamed of being in 60 years ago. Women still have challenges when a they are a leader in a male-dominated industry.
More and more women are making moves into positions historically dominated by men and finding that the higher they climb the more alone as a woman they are.
In these traditional occupations such as; Finance, Law, Tech and STEM industries, women face the challenge that they stand out more as a women amongst many men. However, they can also be less visible being ignored, interrupted or excluded in the male environment.
If you’re a female leader, especially in one of these industries then these tips will help you rise above some of your challenges.
Create Alliances With Decision Makers
My clients come to me because they’ve been put down, pushed aside, or overlooked. It’s not easy to feel you’ve been undervalued. I suggest to these female leaders that they start to build healthy relationships with advocates, colleagues, mentors and other decision makers.
By creating these alliances you will have support when you’re in the room and someone speaking up for you when you’re not.
2. Find Your Confidence
If you’ve been placed in a leadership role, then those higher than you saw something of value that you have to offer.
Armed with the assurance of knowing you earned the role you’re in. Speak confidently and make decisive choices. Don’t work so hard at pleasing others that you let them walk all over you.
Tackle any Imposter Syndrome by making accurate assessments of your performance and asking for feedback to back it up
3. Overcome your Perfectionism
Research has shown that women are more risk averse than men and as a result often want to ensure everything is perfect to avoid failure.
However, many of the female leaders I coach get paralysed by their perfectionist tendencies. It causes them to procrastinate or totally avoid making a decision.
Physically walking away from the problem if you are stuck and focus on another task until your mind has calmed and they have the intuition to move forward.
4. Handle Inappropriate Behaviour
What is unacceptable behaviour to one person is not to another, so it’s important you have identified what your personal boundaries are around how colleagues or clients behave towards you.
Whether it is harassment, bullying, inappropriate comments or exclusion, by men or women. Are you prepared to speak up, call it out or make a complaint?
Many female leaders find it scary and uncomfortable to speak up. however, communicating to others when they breach your boundaries is important not just as a principle but also to maintain your self-worth and self-respect.
5. Trust Your Own Voice
Have you ever had the thought “Who am I to…?” It’s a question that regularly crops up when I talk to clients about what holds them back from speaking up.
Remember that you are one of the most successful, wealthy, educated women on this planet and you have been given your role for a reason. Trust and use your voice.
If you’re looking to feel recognised, valued and fulfilled at work. Then I’d love to share with you some strategies that are specific to your career needs and that will have a huge impact on your career.
Use This Personality Test For Ideas On Careers, Relationships And Friends
I use a personality test with many of my clients when we are building their self-awareness.
I’ve found it helps them understand more about ‘why they behave like they do’ and gives suggestions of potential careers that would suit them.
The Meyers-Briggs test is a well-known personality test that’s used by a lot of corporate companies. It’s based on Carl Jung’s Four Colour Energies and was developed by the mother and daughter partnership of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Meyer.
Like every test the results aren’t completely accurate and you’ll find there are parts of the description that you’ll disagree with.
There are 16 different personality types based on 4 pairs of descriptions and the test aligns you to one of the descriptions in each pair. Making the final description 4 letters long
For example I came out as an ‘Entertainer’ ESFP and after reading the description I could definitely see some of my character traits. Things like; being people and feelings focused and not planning past the now and short-term pleasures.
Then there were other bits I couldn’t totally see in myself though, such as; being utterly social and all the world is my stage??!!
Here’s a simple explanation of the 4 pairs of preferences
People and things (Extraversion or “E”), or ideas and information (Introversion or “I”).
Facts and reality (Sensing or “S”), or possibilities and potential (Intuition or “N”).
Logic and truth (Thinking or “T”), or values and relationships (Feeling or “F”).
A lifestyle that is well-structured (Judgment or “J”), or one that goes with the flow (Perception or “P”).
When my first marriage broke up I told myself that marriages only fail if you’re a failure or you haven’t been good enough.
Where I got this story from I’m not sure. It could be the fact that no one in my extended family had ever been divorced (that’s not true any more)!
Holding onto this story had a huge impact on my confidence and self-esteem. It meant that for a long time I only dated men that were unlikely to commit. I didn’t feel worthy of a committed relationship or able to trust again.
With time I was able to challenge this story and recognised that of course it wasn’t true and question why I ever believed it. As a result I am now very happily married.
The same is true of the stories we tell ourselves in other areas of our lives such as our body image and our careers.
I worked with a client recently who was intimidated around senior male leaders. Despite usually being assertive when interacting with male directors she crumbled and became a ‘yes’ woman.
With some digging we discovered that from her early traditional childhood she’d told herself the story that to get love and approval from dominant males you had to be subservient and respectful.
Once she recognised this behaviour and the story behind it she was able to make the mindset shift to start and change her responses.
There are many stories however illogical that we tell ourselves and you might recognise some of these:
“It’s not worth the struggle as a woman to climb the career ladder so I’ll quit now”
“Being overweight means people judge and don’t trust you”
“It’s not nice as a woman to be ambitious”
“If I could just … (stop drinking, exercise more, get a promotion, move house) life would be perfect”
“Everyone else finds life easier than me”
“Xmas needs to be perfect!”
Recognise the tall tale you’re telling yourself and find evidence to disprove it. Then you’ll have the freedom to behave in a way that boosts rather than drains your confidence.
If you’d like to discover the hidden stories you’re telling yourself to enable you to break free ,then send me an email or book a free call at www.speakwithjo.com. I’d love to speak to you.
I’m sure we can all think of someone we know who just seems to ooze confidence. Who seems comfortable in all situations and doesn’t appear to be nervous or self-doubting.
What is it that determines how confident a person is?
Confidence is multifactorial. The biggest influencers on your confidence levels are; your genetics, your upbringing and experiences, and the choices you make.
That means if you choose to take steps out of your comfort zone, if you challenge yourself and see life as a learning process you CAN build your confidence levels.
In the 10+ years I’ve been researching and studying successful and confident women I’ve been able to identify specific behaviours they avoid.
They don’t try to please everyone all the time. Being kind and thoughtful is obviously important. But ignoring your own wants and needs to keep others happy will only knock your self-esteem and confidence. It might feel easier and quicker to say yes but tune into your intuition and identify what you want, feel or need.
They don’t worry about things that are out of their control. Rather than ‘what if’ worrying about the future or being anxious about experiences in the past, which they can’t change. Confident and courageous people focus on the present and on things which are within their circle of influence. Next time you’re in a worry spiral ask yourself can I do anything helpful about this? If not let it go.
They don’t avoid new and challenging opportunities. This doesn’t mean they don’t have self-doubts or feel nervous, everyone does at times. They have the courage though to know whatever happens they can deal with it. Be curious about new opportunities that come up and be brave enough to say yes.
They don’t get stuck on self-pity. Like all of us they do sometimes feel sorry for themselves. However, even when life feels unfair they don’t get stuck in victim mode and keep looking for who or what they can blame. Instead they take responsibility for discovering how they can move forward. Do you feel that life is unfair and it’s not your fault? You might be absolutely right at this moment but don’t let that stop you from looking forward optimistically
They don’t spend time with negative people. Confident women realise how draining these people can be that constantly complain or see the negative side of life. They surround themselves with friends and colleagues who leave them feeling positive and energised. Take the time to reflect on the people you interact with regularly. Are any of them drains rather than radiators? Consider how you can reduce the time you spend around them.
They don’t need others approval. We all like to receive positive feedback sometimes, but confident women have enough self-belief and trust to make their own decisions and stand by them. Ask yourself is your need for approval meaning you put others needs before yours?
That’s a lot to take in and might feel overwhelming so, choose one behaviour you’re going to change and plan one action you can make to help you.
If you’d like to fast track boosting your career confidence ready for 2019 then I have an amazing Career Strategy Intensive Day that is perfect for you.
Work with me for an intensive day and the month following it to transform your career so you feel recognised, valued and rewarded.
Have you ever thought that you’d rather die than speak in public?
Well, you’re not alone a poll of 2000 people on the top things they were scared of scored a fear of death as lower than a fear of public speaking.
Most people don’t feel brave enough to show their vulnerability in front of others. They focus more on what other people think of them than the message they want to communicate.
Wanting validation from others makes us their prisoner, we’re using their judgement to determine our worth. But, other people’s opinions and thoughts are influenced by what is happening for them in that moment or their experiences in the past. We can’t control their thoughts, so why give them the power over the way we feel?
When I talk to clients about why they have a fear of public speaking they usually come up with one of these fears:
I’ll forget what I wanted to say and look stupid
I’ll be so nervous everyone will be able to tell
My voice will tremble, my body shake and I’ll go red due to nerves
I’ll be boring
Why would they want to hear from me?
I’ll say the wrong thing and they’ll think I’m stupid
This fear is known as glossophobia ( yes it has a real name!)
Studies estimate that 75% of people suffer anxiety and nervousness when speaking in public. It’s often related to a traumatic experience in childhood or early adulthood. There is also thought to be a genetic and environmental link.
What can I do about my fears?
The place to start overcoming a fear of public speaking is by identifying the experience that triggered your fear. Did you get humiliated in class when you read or was your first experience of presenting so bad you’ve never tried again?
Perhaps you’ve never actually spoken in public because your imagination has created such a scary ‘what if’ scenario that you won’t even try.
Once you’ve got clarity on the trigger episode (not everyone has one) then you can challenge that belief.
Our behaviours are often driven by beliefs we have about ourselves and the world. If you’ve picked up the message that you’re no good at presenting or that everyone will know your nervous, then you’ll carry that belief with you and look for evidence to reinforce it.
To challenge that belief you can:
Look for evidence to disprove it. For example when you’ve talked to a group in a safer environment
Recognise that having that belief isn’t working for you and make the proactive choice to build confidence in public speaking
Replace that belief with a new one. For example “I’ve never presented before and it might not be as scary as I imagine” or “Although I’ve found public speaking difficult before it is a skill I can learn”
Once you’ve dealt with those ‘gremlins’ that hold you back you can start to look at practical tips to help build your confidence.
How can I cope with my Fear Of Public speaking?
Don’t Fight The Fear – The physical reaction you have to being nervous – shaking, blushing, dry mouth etc are all a response to the adrenaline released in a ‘fight or flight’ situation. Your mind thinks it’s under threat and reacts to prepare you to run or fight. Don’t take this as a sign that you are gong to be rubbish or look stupid. It’s simply your bodies physiological response and it will pass. Rather than fighting the feelings the less attention you put on them the quicker they will settle
Prepare and Practice – Most of us don’t have the natural ability to ‘wing’ a presentation so preparation and practice are essential. Practise several times and have a dry run in front of a friend or video yourself. It will definitely make you less self-conscious on the day. Remember that practise doesn’t make perfect though. You will make mistakes and that’s completely normal
It’s All About Them Not You – When we’re feeling anxious and nervous we tend to focus on ourselves. How am I feeling? What might I do wrong? Why do I always get so nervous? If you can shift your focus to the audience not only does it calm your nerves but it will lead to a better performance. Consider what your audience want to her and what they want to take away from the talk. How will that make them feel or how will it make their work/life better? Get excited about what you have to share with them
Listen to your breathing – You’ll probably have heard this before but being mindful of your breathing is one of the most effective ways to cope with a fear of public speaking. close your eyes and observe your breathing for a minute then visualise yourself standing confidently in front of your audience, really look into the picture and notice how relaxed you are. Do this for 1 to 2 minutes and your breathing will slow. Then you are calmly ready to speak
Be aware of your body language – Research has shown that having a powerful body language not only gives a confident message to your audience but actually results in changes to your brain chemistry that makes you feel more confident. I’m not suggesting standing in a wonder woman pose but do open up your body position, stand tall with your head up and hands by your side initially and don’t forget to smile!
Whether you’re doing an important presentation at work or a thank you at a party remember nerves are normal and not always a bad thing.
Do you tolerate upsetting comments, back away from conflict or have a difficult time standing up for yourself?
Do you say yes, when you really want to say no?
Or, do you feel pushed and pulled in every direction — and completely consumed by all of the drama?
Is your work-life balance a little…unbalanced? Does it seem like you’re losing your sense of self?
Chances are, you need to get some rock solid personal boundaries in your life!
In essence, personal boundaries set an important space, line or divide between you and another person or situation in order to protect you — your time, energy, body, mind, emotions, privacy, safety and so on.
Boundaries are the physical, emotional and mental limits we set to protect us from being manipulated, mistreated or disrespected and enable us to detach who we are and what we think and feel, from the thoughts and feelings of others.
When we don’t maintain boundaries — whether it’s in our personal or professional lives — we lose our voice, our sense of identity and risk becoming drained, unfocused and unhappy. We take on too many responsibilities and unnecessary burdens.
Here are some simple steps you can take in order to take back your personal power, set or strengthen boundaries and become deeply grounded in who you are and what you need.
Develop Your Self-Awareness
In order to set healthy, productive personal boundaries, we must first know what we are feeling — and what needs attention. This might seem obvious, but the truth is that people with feeble boundaries can become so engrossed in other lives and situations that they lose touch with their own feelings.
Be curious about what you’re feeling, is it guilt, anger, sadness, overwhelm or loneliness? The more aware you are the easier it will be to identify the boundaries you need to put in place.
Identify When You’re Being Breached
Think about when you get these feelings. Does it happen repeatedly? Is there a pattern? What line has been crossed or blurred? Where have you been unconsciously denied your needs and wants?
Is your work cutting into family time?
Are you pressured to do things for others?
Do you feel scared to say no to your boss?
Get Clear On Your Boundaries
Now that you’ve identified the problem areas, you can determine what you will no longer tolerate and begin to draw up some boundaries.
What action do you need to take in order to regain your personal power? To demand self-respect, create space or strengthen the buffers you already had in place?
Do you need to quit working overtime or stop taking on extra clients?
Do you need to practice saying ‘no’?
Communicate Your Boundaries
Depending on the situation, you will either need to declare your boundary to another person or group, or simply take different action.
When communicating your personal boundaries — whether it’s a colleague, family member, friend or yourself — it’s important to be firm and confident.
Use simple, direct language to show your priorities have changed and that you’re taking care of your needs, right now. You may feel a little resistance or guilt, and some people will still continue to push the limits, test the waters and overstep the line — so be unshakeable in who you are and what you need.
Do you need to set or strengthen your personal boundaries?
Let me know what you’d like to different, by commenting below, replying to this email or booking a free call with me at www.speakwithjo.com
Have you been told by other people, done an online quiz or perhaps self-diagnosed? Why not try my self-esteem questionnaire here
A negative self-esteem means you don’t feel good about yourself or your value, you feel of less worth than others and may believe you’re not good enough.
We form this perspective from our personality, upbringing, conditioning in society and experiences in life. It can vary through different phases in your life and has been shown to peak at 60, so their’s hope for us all still!!
If you do struggle with self-appreciation then you are more likely to see situations as negative and to catastrophise problems. Also, you’re probably sensitive to comments that are non-critical, taking them as negative.
In comparison, someone with a healthy self-esteem enjoys growing as a person. They feel fulfilled and stand up for their wants, needs and opinions.
It sounds good, doesn’t it!
Well, it is possible to build your self-esteem and I have some strategies to share with you.
Here’s how you can start to boost your self-esteem today:
Challenge your inner critical voice – we all have an inner gremlin that holds us back with words that persuade us not to take action. Or to do something that isn’t helpful (like that extra glass of wine) The words it says to you are just thoughts though and aren’t necessarily true. You can challenge your gremlin with other evidence. For example, if your inner voice says you’re stupid then think about all the things you’ve achieved that disprove it and your other strengths such as being thoughtful or creative.
Avoid negative self-talk – when you’re not feeling good about yourself it’s easy to use critical self-talk without realising. Start noticing when you talk negatively about yourself to others (even in humour) and how often you internally tell yourself you can’t do something or you’re not good enough. Putting a stop to this type of conversation will make a huge difference to how you regard yourself.
Drop the high expectations – It’s not just perfectionists that have high expectations. Anyone with low self-esteem can also have unrealistic standards for what they can achieve. Setting yourself up to fail like this will reinforce the message that you’re not worthy enough. Having a realistic goal isn’t a sign of weakness and think of the boost if you surpass it.
Drop the comparisons – Are you a Facebook obsessive? Social media can be one of the biggest suppressors of self-esteem because you’re not comparing apples with apples. You’re comparing the window dressing of someone else’s life to the whole, good and bad of yours. Rather than focusing on other people who you think are happier, richer or luckier, move your attention back to you. Think about your aspirations, how you’d like to grow and how you can use your strengths.
Do something nice for you – Wouldn’t you get pleasure from doing something nice for someone else? Then why not treat yourself the same way? For healthy self-esteem, it’s really important to take the time to do something you enjoy and not to feel guilty about it. Whether it’s time out to read a magazine, a shopping trip or a chat with friends. If it makes you feel good then don’t be guilty.
Do something nice for someone else – As I said in number 5, helping out another person gives you a lovely warm feeling and builds your self-esteem. You could plan an act of kindness that you do regularly. Or look for opportunities to be altruistic and it doesn’t matter how big the gesture is. It could be holding open a door or letting a car in front of you in a queue or surprising a friend with flowers.
Set yourself a challenge – This will give you the opportunity to gain a sense of achievement (remember about realistic expectations though!) Start small, perhaps attend an evening class, start the couch to 5K app, or ask a new colleague out for a coffee. The important thing is to acknowledge your achievement and celebrate it before moving on to another challenge.
Think of building your self-esteem as a journey
It’s something you can work towards but may not follow a straight path.
Start with one of the ideas above and take some small steps forward, remembering to recognise any success.
Is there never a queue for the women’s toilets in your workplace?
Do you struggle to get your voice heard, often being interrupted or ignored?
Perhaps you miss having a group of females to chat with?
Many of our professional industries such as Engineering, Finance and Tech still have markedly fewer females than males and that get’s even less as you climb the career ladder.
These male dominated cultures bring different challenges with them. When I presented to Amazon UK a couple of weeks ago I was asked:
“How can I get seen and heard when I work with mainly men?”
My answer was… you don’t need to behave like a man to get recognition. But you can alter your communication style and use some strategies to build rapport and respect.
5 Ways To Stand Out In A Male Dominated Workplace :
Talk about facts and solutions – men tend to speak for power and women for warmth. That means that men throw facts at each other to assess each others competence and whether they are trustworthy. When an issue comes up they go into solution mode rather than listening and empathic mode like women. Try putting more facts into your conversations when you’re looking to build an initial impression.
Speak up in meetings even if you’re interrupted – recognise the value of your opinion and believe that what you have to say is worth listening to. If you’re interrupted and want to finish what you were saying, either ask to finish or keep speaking at a louder volume.
Play to your strengths – expertise is particularly important in a male dominated workplace so, don’t be afraid to share yours. Also play to what are known as your stereotypically female strengths. Relationship building and emotional intelligence are a key part of any team.
Practise handling conflict – whilst preventing conflict by being aware of possible situations likely to trigger disagreement is important, you can’t always prevent it. When conflict occurs deal with it immediately by listening to understand the others view point. Then keeping it professional and not personal, being direct and assertive and by not holding a grudge.
Find a mentor/advocate – develop a support network with colleagues in and out of your department, enabling you to offload and share experiences. Also find a senior manager/s who believe in you and develop that relationship. They’ll then be able to offer you advice as well as advocating for your abilities when you’re not in the room.
Do you have any thoughts or suggestions that helped you when working in a largely male environment? Do let me know or comment below.
Wishing you courage and confidence.
P.S. To get some personal support from me on your workplace challenges you can book a FREE call with me on my online calendar here.
I had one of those days this week when everything seemed really difficult and I felt like nothing I was doing was working. It triggered all my self-doubts and my confidence was on the floor.
But this up and down flow of confidence is completely normal. The thoughts we have in certain situations and with certain people can make us feel really confident or reduce us to self-doub.
When this happens to me I find these 4 tips really helpful:
Ask yourself “When did I feel like this before and what happened?” Recall the last time you felt unconfident, did you still take action? Did the self-doubt feelings go away? When you’re feeling in a positive place it’s worth recording successes you’ve achieved despite doubting yourself. These are really helpful to read when you hit that dip again.
Challenge your expectations. If you expect to achieve very high standards all the time you are setting yourself up to fail as no one is perfect and that can really knock your confidence. Challenge the goals or expectations you have, are they realistic and challenging without being perfection?
Who are you comparing yourself to? The most common people we compare ourselves to are siblings, Facebook friends, colleagues and people we watch or read about online. But you’re only comparing the window dressing of these people with the whole of you. Instead keep your focus on you and your goals because life is scary and messy for everyone at times.
Feeling unconfident is helpful. Emotions are the bodies way of telling us what our thinking is at that moment. Low confidence is just telling us that we’re about to do something new, difficult or both. It doesn’t mean we have to stop but that we should think carefully about how we do it.
Next time you feel your confidence levels drop try out these tips. Not all of them will be helpful to you but do find your favourite and give it a go.
If you find your self-doubts are holding you back then do book a free consultation with me at www.speakwithjo.com. I’ll share with you some strategies to help you boost your confidence and move forward.
Are you someone who works really hard to ensure every detail on a project is ‘right’? Do you hate making a mistake and see it as a failure? Maybe you procrastinate about starting a task in case it’s too difficult and you can’t do it perfectly?
These are some of the traits of perfectionism and most are founded in judgement.
We all have our own set of rules and standards that we expect not just ourselves but sometimes others to adhere to.
When we decide that we haven’t reached the required standard (usually an impossible 100%) out will come the judge and jury and we’ll be found guilty of making mistakes and not being good enough.
This harsh self-judgement results in us trying to control external factors over which we have little or no control. In fact, as a result, those factors get to control us instead!
No wonder we feel stressed, anxious and that our enjoyment and fulfilment of life is limited.
It is possible to free yourself from the rules and unrealistic expectations that drive your perfectionism
Try these 3 steps to help ease the perfectionist pressure (and don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work perfectly!)
Drop the judgement – rather than your perfectionist traits being something ‘wrong’ with you. Focus on how they have given you the drive and motivation to achieve all you have.
Use this drive to empower you to continue achieving, but without the limitation of rules and standards. Be curious about what success you might have.
Be authentic – take the spotlight off being perfect and instead turn it on to being you. What do you value, what would success mean to you, what does a ‘better but not perfect you’ look like?
Stop judging others – When we are harsh judges of ourselves we generally are tough on others too. Look at others with curiosity and compassion instead and you’ll find you naturally see yourself in the same way.
By losing the judgement and having curiosity and compassion instead, life feels less of a battle.
If you’d like to explore your perfectionist challenges or get some free resources then I’d love to hear from you. Just reply to this email or book a free call with me at www.speakwithjo.com